Castrén, Matthias Alexander

Castrén, Matthias Alexander

Castrén, Matthias Alexander (mätēˈäs älĕksänˈdər kästrānˈ), 1813–52, Finnish philologist, one of the first scholars to study the Finno-Ugric languages. Castrén was long a professor at the Univ. of Helsingfors (now Helsinki).
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Castrén, Matthias Alexander


Born Dec. 2, 1813, in Tervola; died May 7, 1852, in Helsinki. Finnish philologist and ethnologist. Doctor of sciences (1839).

Castrén graduated from the University of Helsinki in 1838 and was appointed a professor there in 1851. He was the first to translate the entire Kalevala into Swedish. From 1838 to 1849, on commission of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Castren traveled through Finland, Karelia, Arkhangel’sk Province, and Siberia (the Ob’ and Enisei basins, from the mouth to the Saians and Transbaikalia). He made a major contribution to the study of the languages and ethnography of the Finno-Ugric, Samoyedic, Tungusic-Manchurian, and Paleo-Asiatic peoples. Castrén compiled grammars and dictionaries for 20 languages. He advanced the theory of the kinship of the Finno-Ugric, Samoyedic, Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungusic-Manchurian languages, which he classified in the Altaic linguistic family. He considered the homeland of these peoples to be the Altai-Saian mountain region.


Puteshestviia Aleksandra Kastrena po Laplandii, Severnoi Rossii i Sibiri. Moscow, 1860.


Pamiati M. A. Kastrena: K 75-letiiu so dnia smerti. Leningrad, 1927.
Murav’ev, V. B. Vekhi zabytykh putei.Moscow, 1961.
Ravila, P. “M. A. Castren—philologist.” Journal de la Société Finno-Ougrienne, 1952, vol. 56.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.